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Mining firm disputes MGB suspension order

Nickel mining firm Marcventures Holdings Inc. has protested a mining suspension order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the Carrascal portion of its contract area in Surigao del Sur, claiming that the government agency had acted “arbitrarily and without legal basis.”

Given the dispute with MGB, Marcventures has requested the Philippine Stock Exchange for a trading suspension on its shares, citing the need to “safeguard the interests of its shareholders while the issues are resolved with the MGB.” On Friday, shares of Marcventures tumbled 19.62 percent on news that MGB had ordered the suspension of its Surigao mine for alleged violations.

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In a regulatory filing on Friday, Marcventures also refuted the MGB’s allegations that its subsidiary, Marcventures Mining and Development Corp. (MMDC), had failed to maintain environmental mitigation measures in the Cabangahan area notwithstanding the presence of an armed illegal barricade by certain third parties. It also challenged the MGB’s findings of “unsystematic method of extraction in Pili.”

“The company, for its part, has consistently acted in good faith and been in constant coordination and compliance with the MGB,” Marcventures said, adding it would “pursue all remedies available to it to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders.”

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On MGB’s allegation that MMDC was conducting its mining operations outside the approved mining area, Marcventures said its subsidiary had “validly obtained all the necessary permits from the MGB.” The argument that the 300-hectare portion of the contract area approved under the partial declaration of mining project feasibility (DMPF) should be situated in the Cantilan area and not in the Carrascal area was “without basis,” the company said.

It argued that it was authorized to proceed to extract nickel ore and associated minerals in the 300-hectare area. The environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the original 120 hectares and for the 4,799 hectares, which included both the original 120 hectares and the 300-hectare portion, had already been obtained and submitted to MGB, Marcventures said.

The mining firm lamented that additional documentary requirements for alleged violations cited by MGB had only been raised for the first time in the MGB letter on April 22, 2014.

All related mineral ore export permits and ore transport permits issued by the MGB already stated the source of the extracted minerals, which included Cantilan and Carrascal, the company said. It also noted that the ore transport permits had been issued by MGB director Leo Jasareno, the same official who issued the MGB letter suspending the mining operations.

Meanwhile, Marcventures lamented that the MGB had conducted only one inspection of MMDC’s mining premises on July 3, 2013, in Cabangahan, and on July 4, 2013, in Carrascal and that these became the sole basis of its findings of deficient environmental mitigation measures in Cabangahan.

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TAGS: Business, economy, marcventures holdings inc., Mines and Geosciences Bureau, mining, News
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